Updated: Apr 21
On Air with Ella - episode 208
Life is always changing. Sometimes in small degrees, and sometimes in giant leaps. One of the most often complaints we have is that of Overwhelm. Overwhelm (in its verb form) means to bury or drown beneath a huge mass, to defeat completely, or to inundate.
Often what we mean when we say we feel overwhelmed, is to say that we are in a state of despair by all that we need to do, or by all that we are feeling, or by all that we are supposed to do - and don’t know where to even start.
You may be in a state of overwhelm created by a myriad of factors that make you busy. Maybe it’s parenting or working or managing the household or too many projects..or too many businesses! Maybe you are overwhelmed by your financial state, or your daily, unnamed stress or anxiety. Perhaps you’re falling prey to what we talk about so often here and you are overwhelmed by your need to be something that you are not. Your need to meet a standard. To be better, thinner, stronger, prettier.
Or maybe you’re overwhelmed by the pain you see every day and feel powerless to stop. Current events, injustices, the lack of common sense or fairness or equity. Did your radar ping at any of these?
Overwhelm keeps us small.
As long as we are crushed underneath the weight of a thing, we are right where the oppressive weight wants us to be. Flat out, pinned to the floor. Overwhelm robs us of our power by robbing us of our mobility. We cannot move forward. We are held in place by the weight on our back. And so, we despair.
Despair can be paralytic. Despair says “I don’t know WHAT to do here so I shall do nothing.”
Despair robs us of our power, too.
In present times, I’m moved to talk about this. To remind us of who we are, and why we are here.
We are not here to be crushed under the weight of our own overwhelm or by the despair we feel when we look at the world.
To address this, I want to talk to you about 3 different concepts in our circle of influence. They are CONTROL vs INFLUENCE vs ACCEPTANCE.
"We are not here to be crushed under the weight of our own overwhelm, or by the despair we feel when we look at the world. "
I don’t know about you, but I used to think and act as though I could control so many things that I absolutely could not. Experience has taught me time and time again that I control so much less than I used to think.
Here’s a short list of things I thought at one time or another that I could control:
What people thought of me
How smart or capable or worthy people thought I was
Whether my social group would accept me
How my marriage would go according to my terms and expectations
What people would think of me after a failure
How my career would unfold
How my children would develop and on what timeline
How my body would respond to different food regimes, exercise and various treatments intended to control it
How my family dynamic would unfold
The list goes on and on and on…
The more I experienced, the more I realized that my false sense of control and my need to feel that I was in the driver’s seat on any one of these caused me more pain than the thing itself.
Ok, if you cannot control the thing, I ask you, can you influence it? I think of this inversely - my experience is that we think we can control so many more things than we can, and then we wildly underestimate the places we have influence.
I cannot control the world’s economies. I cannot control the world’s systemic injustices. I cannot control what happens in the media, what comes out of other people’s mouths, how my company operates in this world. Nope, ...but where do I have INFLUENCE? What can I do with that influence?
I can’t change other people, but can I speak up. I can lead by example, I can use my own money a certain way, I can read a thing, I can teach a thing, I can start a conversation, I can end a conversation, I can step out into the world and try out my influence in a 30-foot radius in my own home. What about my neighborhood, my community, my country, the world?
Yes, if you’re here. You’re an influencer. Can you write, can you speak, can you create a thing that matters to you? Do you have a passion that you can pursue because if you have that passion? My friend, that is WHERE YOU WILL HAVE INFLUENCE. You were given a different stack of passions than I was. Why do you think that is? It’s because NOBODY, nobody but you was meant to influence their corner of the world the way you were.
Where do you have influence?
Where is your influence needed?
Ok, you say. I know there are some things I cannot control, but I can in fact have influence. But sometimes life comes at you hard and not only do you not have an iota of control, but truly you have no influence. Let’s call these hurricanes, metaphorically.
A hurricane is a force well beyond your control. It is happening around you and to you. It is from somewhere else, it will stay as long as it likes, it will do what it wants to do. This might be a) an actual hurricane, or perhaps b) an illness or a world event, or a condition of human existence or an injustice that existed long before you breathed air on this planet. Maybe it’s a rejection or a closed door of some kind.
Or maybe it's in human form.…a disloyalty, a death, a divorce that you didn’t see coming. Maybe it’s a job crisis or - I know this is a stretch - a worldwide pandemic with universal economic implications.
There are an infinite number of hurricanes in our life, and we would be hard pressed to contain them. So maybe that’s it then, right? I can’t control it, I can’t influence it, I must ACCEPT it.
CONTROL >> INFLUENCE >> ACCEPTANCE
This isn’t great news if that’s where it ends. This is a loop that takes us to overwhelm, and back to anxiety, despair, sadness ...whatever feeling you tend to feel when you lose your power.
But here’s the truth. Here’s the thing: Your sphere of Influence is so much greater when you realize the power that you do have. When you open your eyes to your own power, you can truly dismantle the overwhelm, you can break it up, take it apart, and handle it.
Where you have to adapt to something beyond your control, how you adapt is your power.
Our Sphere of Influence
Brendan Burchard wrote “Success in almost any endeavor is made possible not by the circumstances, but by malleable factors we can actually change with effort and intention.*”
What does that mean? It means that even in the face of circumstances you cannot control, nor influence, you can determine HOW you will accept and adapt.
What is that thing that is creating overwhelm for you right now? Is it money? your career? a relationship? a disordered relationship with your own body? a diagnosis? Is it an environment of tension or hurt or resentment? Is it injustice or unfairness?
I want to remind you of your great power no matter what your particular hurricane is right now. Hold your hurricane in mind and consider these few examples of your sphere of influence right in the eye of the storm. You get to choose:
The mindset that you choose to adopt
The language you use to express yourself to others and to yourself
The focus that you give, be it less or more
The way you treat others despite the circumstances
The discipline and constancy with which you strive for your goals
Your resilience, the way you bounce back from the smackdowns that life will deliver
The way you take care of your physical body - your food, sleep, exercise, movement
How open or closed you choose to be - your heart, your eyes, your mind
There are more, but here is the point of these examples: Where you have to adapt to something beyond your control, how you adapt IS your power. So even in the most challenging of times, in almost any context, your sphere of influence is so much greater than despair would have you believe.
Think about it and let’s continue the conversation:
Where are you trying to control, but you need to accept and adapt?
Where do you believe you cannot control, but you have more influence than you considered?
What can you do with that influence? Where is your influence needed?
What can you control? (hint: see above list)
I want to talk with you about this! Hop over to Instagram and drop me a note, or comment here.
*quote and some of the 8 tips inspired by High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard